Roberta Muro

Director Girls’ Probation
The Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention and Youth Services Center
Albuquerque, New Mexico

“We don’t have the mechanisms in place to get permission” for detention to share sensitive health information with the probation team, explains Roberta Muro, director of the Bernalillo County probation unit in Albuquerque. And because the detention center is run by the county, while the probation unit is run by the state, getting through the bureaucracy can be difficult.

Without that information, Muro says, probation officers often don’t know what to follow up on, or whether the girls need help finding health care in the community. “Maybe she’s not going to school because she has issues we don’t know about. Maybe detention sent her home with a prescription for antibiotics, but she can’t afford it and no one follows up,” Muro explains. “The more we know, the more we can help…”

In most counties and states, the minute a child, on Medicaid, enters detention their insurance coverage is immediately cut off. The costs of any medical services during detention therefore fall entirely to the states. While Albuquerque doesn’t have an electronic records system (The Girls Health Screen© pilot was a paper version), if both [county and state agencies] could access an electronic version of a girl’s answers, Muro says, the probation unit can follow up seamlessly, making sure a girl continues her birth control, for example, or completes her course of antibiotics.

“As we put the blocks together, they can start caring about themselves and feeling better,” she says. “It’s a chicken and egg thing—do you treat the trauma, the drug abuse, the medical issues? A lot of people don’t understand—you have to treat it all at once.”

Gold, Jenny. (2012, November 26).  In juvenile detention, girls face health care designed for boys.  Kaiser Health News.